Guest Post: TKW’s Dad Attempts a Recipe

February 3, 2010

Hi Lovely Readers! My very own Daddy-O is back in da house today! So grab a Coca-Cola and settle on in for my Dad’s first EVER recipe!

ps: Daddy, sorry for the cartoon, but I couldn’t resist. It’s your reward for raising willful, outrageous daughters :) Love you, mistah.

The Nine Basic Food Groups

The Kitchen Witch (my lovely daughter) has some wonderful posts with beautiful pictures of food and rather complex recipes. However, most of them look like they came out of Paris and are completely undecipherable and beyond comprehension to someone born in the 30’s. Looking back on those wonderful years, TKW’s Dad remembers Nine Basic Food Groups. They are:

1. Pot Roast (with potatoes, carrots, onions and lots of gravy)
2. Hamburgers
3. Hot Dogs (Chicago Style)
4. Fried Chicken (alas, now forsaken for Costco Rotisserie Chicken for health reasons)
5. Fruit (mostly canned but fresh in season – Chicago’s summer)
6. Vegetables (mostly canned but fresh in Chicago’s summer)
7. Salad (mostly iceberg lettuce with French dressing, but sometimes Jello)
8. Potatoes (American fried, French fried, creamed or mashed)
9. Pie (always apple or cherry except for Thanksgiving)

I see nothing wrong with this list? I have no idea why TKW gagged when she saw it?

The true star of the list, however, is item #3.

To fully appreciate my favorite food (and following recipe), you have to understand that I grew up in a Western suburb of Chicago. I had an uncle who was a sportswriter for the now defunct Chicago Daily News. As his lucky nephew, I got tickets to lots of sporting events–and I certainly wasn’t shy about asking for them. And every year, so began the Rite of Spring.

Many people believe the Rite of Spring is a piece of music by Igor Stravinsky. Idiots.

TKW’s Dad knows better. Growing up, the Rite of Spring was the un-official holiday of the year. The home opener of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The one day of the year when the Cubbies were undefeated and tied for the National League Championship.

And what does one do when you go to Wrigley?

Before entering the ballpark, you must, absolutely must walk up to one of the cart vendors and purchase a couple of Chicago style hot dogs, a Coca-Cola, and enjoy a truly gourmet and healthmark lunch.

Why do I say healthmark? Well, while the Chicago style hot dog was initially created during the 1893 Chicago Exposition and World Fair, it really became famous during the great depression years of the 30’s. Back then, you could get a hot dog with “salad” on the top for only a nickel, and money was really tight.

See? Hot Dog+Salad=Healthmark.

A Chicago Dog is a thing of beauty, as you can see. A better meal doesn’t exist.

But if you don’t have the good luck to live in the Windy City, I give you this recipe.


1. Vienna All-Beef Hot Dog (no cheating!)
2. Sweet neon green relish (Vienna Chicago Style preferred)
3. Mustard (Yellow! No Dijon! Dijon is sacrilege)
4. The Pickle (I like Claussen’s, or from the Puckered Pickle Company)
5. Onion (chopped white)
6. Tomato
7. Sport Peppers (these are essential, folks!)
8. Celery Salt (any brand will do…see how flexible I am?)
9. Poppyseed Bun (These are a bitch to find. Vienna makes them, but you may have to bribe a bakery to make them for you).

Now that you have the ingredients, all you have to do is properly prepare them.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs can be either grilled, boiled or steamed. However, any purist prefers them steamed. Place the dogs in a Dutch oven fitted with a steamer rack. Add a small amount of water to the Dutch oven(you don’t want liquid bubbling onto your dogs!) Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover tightly.

Steam 5 – 7 minutes or until Hot Dogs are heated through. Just heat them through; don’t cook the heck out of them!

To steam the buns, stack them on top of the dogs in the last two minutes of cooking.

Place the dog in the bun and very carefully follow these most important steps.

~ Dress the dog, not the bun! The goal is to evenly distribute the toppings so you taste each ingredient in every bite. In this order:

1. Yellow Mustard – squirted directly on the dog, in zig-zag pattern, one end to the other.
2. Neon Green Relish – generous amount
3. Fresh Chopped Onions – to your taste
4. Two Tomato Wedges – placed along the crevice between the top of the bun and the Hot Dog
5. Pickle Spear – placed in the crevice between the bottom of the bun and the Hot Dog
6. Two Sport Peppers – Traditional and necessary for a real Chicago Dog.
7. Celery Salt – Sprinkle a dash over the Dog.

As this is TKW’s Dad’s first attempt ever at recipe writing, I must give full credit to two websites that do a much better job with far better information. They are and

There are many Chicago websites with reviews of hot dog restaurants, but I still prefer the Vienna Beef street vendors. On the West side there still is Parky’s on Harlem Avenue in Forest Park which has been in business for at least 50 plus years.

Unfortunately, the various health departments have vastly limited, if not done away with most of the outdoor hot dog wagons and carts, even at O’Hare International Airport (those jerks!) Some of the bars at O’Hare serve them, but they’re not nearly as good.

Fortunately, in Denver we have Mustard’s Last Stand, Chicago on Colfax Avenue and Woody’s in Littleton.

Because if TKW’s dad ever has to make them for himself, he’s in a world of hurt.


There you are, folks! Can you tell that these are words of a hot dog Purist? Daddy-O, thanks for giving my readers this *healthy* recipe, complete with assembly instructions! You are the best, Wallet Man!

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